In Yoga 'they' (the Gurus) say you should practice 'Savasana' for at least 5 mins for every hour you practice yoga, so a 75 min class would be 7 mins 'Savasana', and 90 mins would be 9 mins 'Savasana'. For most of us, we probably spend around 2 to 4 mins max in this posture and that's normal, we are now so busy and on a schedule. That's why I love to practice the Sunday afternoon class or the last class at night as I have nowhere to be but right here in the room and I can really 'surrender'.
There are 3 stages to 'Savasana' and apparently it's around the 6 minute mark that you actually let go and enter phase two, where things around you dim and you hear the sounds but they don't distract you, your body 'sleeps' but your mind watches. Have you ever come round from 'Savasana' and everyone has left the room and you didn't even notice? You were in the second phase! If you are lucky enough to slip into phase three, it's a bonus and the most restorative of all, but it takes a full 15 min of 'Savasana' to get there.
'Savasana' is what you've worked your butt off for during your practice: you deserve every minute of it. Physically, it allows your body to return back to normal and the heart rate to lower, muscles to let go and the body temperature to begin lowering. It also allows you to absorb the peace and the space you created in your body and connects everything you did in the practice together, and indeed without it, your practice is incomplete.
When you're in the pose you are not just lying there doing nothing, you are actually training your mind and body to stay in that moment and to focus on your breath, rather on the 100 distractions that fly through your brain about what you've got to do that day.
Use any Savasana you get in class: before, during and after, as a 'pit stop' where you rest your body and mind, so that it's ready to go for the next part of class, or the next part of your day. As you practice this posture more, you'll also start to notice changes outside of the yoga room – from how you handle stress to how you react to confrontations.
Like any posture, you have to work at it so that you are really in the posture, practicing stillness and acceptance.
First, try to tune into your body and be aware of how it's feeling, scan your whole body, starting at your toes and work your way up your body, limb by limb. As you do your body-scan, mentally allow your muscles to relax and release tension. Right now, for example, say to yourself, 'relax your jaw and mouth slack' – what happens? We have the power to guide ourselves into a state of relaxation, but our minds are quick to distract us from this and flood us with thoughts – so come back to the body and your breath.
Once you've scanned your whole body, start to concentrate on your breath and follow it around your body, being aware of each and every breath. This is maybe the first time today, this week or this year, you've 'checked in with yourself' and how you are feeling and breathing. Our real selves are underneath all the chatter, but we don't often connect because we are so busy with tasks, movement, thoughts and electronic devices.
Now release any controlled breathing, allow your body to drop into the floor, and observe your thoughts without reacting to them, as if they were clouds drifting past you in the sky. Feel completely at ease, expansive and like you are taking up as much space in the room as you like.
It would be so easy if we could just flop down and float way, relaxing and meditating, but the reality is very different for most of us. But even just those few moments of 'Savasana' can have big effects and you'll leave your class feeling more at ease and more relaxed, effecting your mood for the rest of the day or night.